Author Archive

“Captain Blood-Then & Now” Laguna Beach

21 May

More from my “Captain Blood” shots. Three Arch Bay is a private beach within a naturally enclosed double-cove that’s part of a gated community and not open to the public. In the fourth photo you’ll notice the top of a rock I call “the teapot handle” has eroded away. The Flynn-Rathbone duel was actually filmed in both coves but edited to appear as if one location.

At some point I will post “Then & Now” scenes from the film that were shot in Palm Canyon, California. Palm Canyon and Laguna Beach were the only locations outside the studio that were used in filming “Captain Blood.”







— Robert


“They Died With Their Boots On”-Some “Then & Now” Outtakes

23 Apr

Here are a couple of samples that won’t be in the book, mostly because they just aren’t good enough, but also because I don’t want it to be Flynn-heavy. The publisher who first expressed interest convinced me to widen the scope of film choices to include more films from recent times, something I reluctantly agreed to even though seriously cutting into the samples from classic films.

Often, film locations will be discovered, only to pose difficulties in positioning oneself in the precise spot from which the movie’s cameraman filmed the scene (David can attest to this, having joined me on a search I was doing to set up a shot for a scene from “Charge of the Light Brigade”). Also, although only official stills are being used for the book, there are occasions when no stills were taken for a particular scene and I use a screen grab to locate and set up a “Now” shot for my own interest. This is the case in the two samples shown here. I may not be publishing them, but they are fun for me to share with fellow fans on the blog.

The wide sample is a composite of screen grabs and my location photos. I will often put a composite together to show a wider view of the location that the panning movie camera didn’t capture in one framing (see the duel with Friar Tuck in my “Then & Now” page). The two stitched screen grabs show Flynn on horseback in both shots, and required me to shoot from two positions to replicate the panorama. The results are less than satisfactory (there are condominiums and overgrown trees now in the way), but I think we Flynn fans can appreciate it more than would the ordinary film fan.

Also included is a sample from another scene from the same basic location, a better lining- up of my “Now” shot but less interesting because the scene doesn’t highlight Flynn.


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— Robert


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My Home At Bella Vista

05 Mar

In the 1980s I was privileged to have lived on John Barrymore’s estate, Bella Vista. When Flynn came to Hollywood he searched out Barrymore. When I came to Hollywood I searched out Flynn–or his footsteps, to be precise–and, in a strange, circular coincidence ended up in Barrymore’s home. Here is a photo collection of the house from my days there (and one more recently). It was a magical time….

1) The Bella Vista sign, now long gone, having been cut down. But by whom?

2) The road up to Bella Vista

3) The former aviary, seen from the road

4) Around the bend to my house, passing Ryan O’Neal’s place, also part of the original Barrymore estate

5) My house, high up on the property

6) A closer view, with the bedroom balcony at the top and the veranda below it

7) The stairs to the house–a long climb! (recent photo with the large Eucalyptus cut down)

8) The first flight up

9) The view from the veranda over Beverly Hills. Many a wonderful afternoon and evening were spent on that veranda, which was especially lovely at night with all the twinkling lights below. I was living there on the occasion of Barrymore’s centennial and raised a drink to him that evening on that veranda–sadly, he didn’t deign to grace me with a spiritual visitation! This view is now obscured by large Eucalyptus trees

10) The view across the road from me to the comedian Shelley Berman’s home, formerly the home of Edgar Bergen (Candice grew up there)

11) The door with Barrymore’s initials and serpent coat of arms

12) The coat of arms

13) Outside my bedroom, a view also obscured today by the overgrown foliage

14) The courtyard behind my house

15) The courtyard, a beautiful place to wander and dream of days long gone

16) Part of the main house seen above the courtyard

17) A path up to the main house

18) I loved it there, long ago when those days were closer to the days of Barrymore himself.


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— Robert


More “Charge of the Light Brigade” Then & Now….

03 Mar

….with my Mrs. standing in for Errol!

  CotLB LP3  CotLB LP2_1  COTLB14

— Robert


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More Then & Now from “Captain Blood”

03 Mar

Some extras from my photo session at Three Arch Bay in 2008….

CB5    CB9

— Robert

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Gretna Green Wedding Chapel, Yuma, AZ. Then & Now

27 Feb

gretna 35Over the years the Gretna Green Wedding Chapel has moved locations around Yuma, Arizona, with at least one disappearing altogether. The actual chapel where Errol and Lili were married on June 19, 1935 still exists and is now a simple, unassuming private home. Because of the growth of foliage in the convening years, it was difficult to line up a single shot to correspond with the vintage photo, so two were required to offer an opportunity to make Then & Now comparisons. Both buildings in the early photo can be seen in current photos on either side of it.

It is apparent that the two buildings have changed very little, but what I find most fascinating is that it appears that the small young palm tree to the left of the chapel entrance in the vintage photo is now a fully grown palm seen in the same position in the current photo on the left. If so, it outlived not only the chapel but many of the marriages conducted at this very location–including that of Flynn and Damita.


— Robert


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“The Sea Hawk” Point Mugu, California

27 Feb

Sea Hawk:Pt. Mugu

— Robert


Desperate Journey-Then & Now

16 Dec

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Here are some newer Then & Now shots, with corresponding screen grabs from the film. I have often found that it would require a higher vantage point, perhaps a ladder or platform, to accurately line up shots with the original scenes, but I think these serve to give a reasonable idea of filming at this location (which is private). In the rare candid long shot, the group of men in a circle at the left are (l-r) Arthur Kennedy, Alan Hale, Ronald Sinclair, and Flynn. To the right of them in the hat and long white coat is Raoul Walsh. In the other rare candid long shot of the group at the middle of the bridge are (l-r) Alan Hale, a production assistant, Flynn, and Ronald Reagan. In the closeup still are (l-r) Alan Hale, Ronald Reagan, Arthur Kennedy, and Flynn. The screen grabs show that the scene was filmed in daylight with filters (and a matte added to the “night” sky), something decided upon because Flynn had, only four days earlier, refused to work at night. As you can see, the bridge is no longer there and a road now dips down from the earth berm to what was formerly the river bed. (As a side note, this very wash over which the bridge spans was where flood waters from the collapsed St. Francis dam tore through in 1928, making its way to the Pacific Ocean, over 50 miles from dam to coast. Along its path it entire towns were destroyed and up to 600 people died. At Piru, the location of this scene and photos, the wall of water may still have still been over ten feet high. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this catastrophe is the biggest in California history.)

— Robert


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Errol, Patrice, and Arnella at the Huntington Hartford House, Autumn of 1957

10 Dec

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— Robert


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“Silver River” 1948

20 Jan

— Robert